It was good to see Rohit Sharma back in action in the last league game of the ongoing Indian Premier League. His return for the last stage of the tournament augurs well for the Mumbai Indians.
The BCCI, which planned the tournament, IMG, which executed the tournament for the BCCI and Star, which captured the action on the field, deserve to be complimented. Fans were starved of live sporting action and the IPL provided them with just that. And what an eventful tournament this IPL has turned out to be! We had to wait till the 56th and last league game to know the identities of all four teams which had qualified for the Playoffs. Sun Risers Hyderabad became the fourth team to make it, at the expense of Kolkata Knight Riders.
The cricket has been of a very high quality throughout. Mumbai Indians apart, there was nothing much to choose between the teams. There was a fair bit of experimenting, and teams which managed to get their combinations more or less right, made it to the Playoffs. Those which struggled to do so, ended up losing out.
They were a lot less consistent than they would have liked to be. Kings XI Punjab got into a rhythm of sorts with Chris Gayle’s arrival, but the team was let down by inconsistent bowling and batting in the middle order.
The case of Rajasthan Royals was similar. Ben Stokes was phenomenal at the top of the order, but his teammates did not complement him as well as they should have. Jofra Archer waged a lone battle with the ball for the franchise. Kolkata Knight Riders had their moments, but they ended up being dependent on other results going their way. That is never a safe position to be in.
On the other hand, Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad hung in there, despite some turbulence. The SRH will fancy their chances in the Eliminator against Royal Challengers Bangalore, a team which has lost its last four games.
Qualifier 1 between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals should be an interesting game, with the defending champions starting as favourites. Delhi Capitals will look to Shikhar Dhawan giving them a good start at the top of the order and Kagiso Rabada delivering with the ball as he has throughout the competition. The others will have to support these two stalwarts.
The next season of the IPL will hopefully be played as per schedule. Whether it will be played in India or elsewhere, we will know soon. This means that the owners of the teams will be a busy lot for the next couple of months. They do not have much time at hand to brainstorm and take tough calls. We will see some teams being rejigged and others being rebuilt, in the lead-up to the 2021 season of the IPL.